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In My Library – part 2

February 7th, 2013

Many of you are avid readers, like me, you are probably interested in what other people have on their bookshelves. While I was looking for a book the other day, the thought hit me that you might be interested in seeing what books I have gracing the shelves in my home. This will be a series, every now and then I’ll feature a few of the books on my shelf and tell you about them, where I got them, if I love them, etc.
In My Library Cookbooks 1
In part two, we’ll be looking at a section of my cookbooks. I love to cook, so naturally I have quite a collection of books pertaining to that topic. My cookbooks vary quite widely, here are a few from a small section of my bookshelf. This time around, each and every book was purchased after I had borrowed the copy from my local library. Not only was I inspired by the recipes I found in each of these books, I also appreciated all the other information contained within; also, being a photographer, I was especially inspired by the images in these books.
In My Library Cookbooks 8
Afield: A Chef’s Guide to Preparing and Cooking Wild Game and Fish is one of the most recent additions to my bookshelf. Mr Chiots actually purchased this book for me last fall. As many of you know, Mr Chiots enjoys hunting and would like to start hunting fowl and other game now that we live in a more rural area. All of the recipes in the book look amazing, I haven’t tried any of the venison ones yet, but I will very, very soon.  I’m all ready for Mr Chiots to bring home some delicious freshly caught fish or a bird or two as well.
In My Library Cookbooks 7
Way back when I started transitioning to making more food from scratch and learning the art of making things by hand, I purchased Cooking by Hand by Paul Bertolli. I find this book to be very inspirational, not only does he cover topics like making your own pasta, he goes deeper than most cookbooks by discusses making pasta from alternative starches like chestnut flour. This is definitely a book for the hardcore made from scratch by hand cook. This book has it all, from preparing and grinding chestnuts to making the best polenta, there’s definitely an emphasis on the Italian/european artisanal cuisine.  When we finally raise a pig here at Chiot’s Run, I’ll be following his directions to make my own proscuitto and fermented sausages. If you’re into serious DIY cooking or know someone that is, this is the book for you!
In My Library Cookbooks 6
I’ve talked about Healing Spices many times before, both here and on our podcast. This is more of an herbal/spice reference guide with recipes. There’s a recipe for every spice, which teaches you how to best incorporate them into your diet. Every recipe I’ve tried has been fantastic. The Hungarian Goulash is particularly good, the addition of caraway to balance out the paprika was enlightening for me. If you’re trying to learn more about the health benefits of adding more herbs and spices to your diet, I highly recommend this book. It can be read little by little in small sections, perfect for enjoying with your afternoon coffee or tea!
In My Library Cookbooks 5
Mr Chiots and I don’t eat a lot of sweets, at least we try not to. I don’t have a sweet tooth, but Mr Chiots sure does. Whenver he’s craving something sweet, I often make a fruit based dessert from Rustic Fruit Desserts. So far, every recipe I’ve tried from this book has been spot on. We are particularly fond of the pandowdy. I’ll tell you a little secret though, I generally cut the sugar in half when I make any of these recipes and usually swap maple syrup for whatever sweetener is included.  If you are looking for sweets a book that focuses on fruit desserts this is a great buy.  It’s even organized by season if you’re like me and prefer to eat seasonally.
In My Library Cookbooks 4
Part gardening book, part cookbook, Tender: A Cook and His Vegetable Patch perfectly describes how I feel about my vegetable garden and my cooking. The reason I started my own little garden was to supply the best possible vegetables for my plate. Now I love the cultivation of vegetables as much as I love preparing and eating them. This book is the perfect bedtime reading for any gardener/cook. You’ll fall asleep dreaming about all the wonderful things you can grow in your garden and all the fabulous ways to prepare them for your table.  It’s hefty too, large enough to keep you busy reading for months! I definitely have his fruit book Ripe: A Cook in the Orchard on my wishlist!
In My Library Cookbooks 3
The River Cottage Preserves Handbook is one of my favorite preserving books. The recipes are so unique, you’ll find how to make sloe gin, roasted tomato passata (which is one of my favorites from this book), spiced brandy plums, and so many unique things that you won’t see in most American preserving books. If you enjoy preserving and want something out of the ordinary, give this book a look. No doubt you’ll be trying to figure out how to add quince trees to your garden, you’ll be searching for chestnuts to use, and you’ll no doubt be making roasted tomato passata each and every year!
In My Library Cookbooks 2
I hope you’ve enjoyed this peek at what’s on my bookshelf.  Stay tuned for more books in my library.

What are some of the books that inspire you in the kitchen?

The Series:
In My Library – part 1
In My Library – part 2
In My Library – Part 3
In My Library – Birding Books
In My Library: the Edible Garden Edition

If you do want to purchase any of these books or anything else from Amazon, use my Amazon Link, I’ll earn a few pennies to help pay for my now outrageous hosting bill for this blog!

Friday Favorite: Cookbooks Old and New

March 11th, 2011

I love to cook, always have. When I was a little girl I dreamed of opening a bakery. I started cooking a lot of our family meals when I was in high school and never left the kitchen. The older I got, the more I started cooking from scratch, trying new ingredients and honing my cooking skills. I have to admit that I rarely use a cookbook, I’m fairly skilled at inventing recipes and in knowing what combinations taste great. This doesn’t stop me from buying and reading cookbooks. I do use recipes occasionally, but they never are followed to a T. Cookbooks inspire me to try to new things and give me ideas for dishes and combinations.

I do follow recipes when it comes to canning. Changing these recipes dramatically can affect the acidity which will affect the canning length and whether or not the item can be water bath canned or will need to be pressure canned. I have a lot of old canning cookbooks as I usually follow their canning length recommendations instead of the newer ones, since I think they’re overkill and cook things to death.

One of my favorite old canning cookbooks is the Preserving the Taste by Edon Waycott. It’s no longer in print and can be difficult to find. The recipes are fabulous, many of them mixing herbs with fruits and vegetables with wonderful results. Mr Chiot’s favorite preserve, Caramelized Apple Marmalade with Thyme is from it. One of my favorites, Yellow Tomato Preserves, is also from this little book. I also love the 1973 edition of Stocking Up: How to Preserve the Foods You Grow Naturally, this specific version uses honey as a sweetener in most of the recipes instead of sugar which I love. I also have the 1972 Farm Journal’s Country Cookbook that was given to me by Mr Chiot’s step mom (it was her mother’s). It’s my go-to book for pickling as all the recipes I’ve tried are really great!

I check a lot of cookbooks out of the library before buying them. If I find that the recipes sound interesting or I try a few that are really great I will purchase the book. Some books I buy for inspiration and ideas for food as well as photography. I keep a list of books that I’d like to buy. These books are currently on my to-buy list:

As my tastes change I try to get rid of older cookbooks I’m no longer using, especially if I get new ones (you know the rule if you buy something you have to get rid of something). I recently added The River Cottage Preserves Handbook and Rustic Fruit Desserts: Crumbles, Buckles, Cobblers, Pandowdies, and More to my collection.

This stack of books is getting the boot from my collection. I no longer use them and I figured they’d be better off in someone else’s kitchen where they’ll be used and enjoyed. If you’re interested in this stack of Cooking Light Annual Recipes cookbooks let me know, I’ll choose one person who comments that they want them below to adopt these cookbooks from my collection. Our winner is Brittany P, congrats.

What’s your favorite cookbook? Have you found any great new ones recently? Do you have any great vintage cookbooks?

Reading & Watching

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.